Luke McWilliams gives his review of the 2020 historical drama film, The Trial of the Chicago 7, written and directed by Aaron Sorkin and starring Sacha Baron Cohen.
In Chicago, 1968, eight disparate, anti-Vietnam War protesters are charged by the US Government with conspiracy and crossing state lines with the intention of inciting riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention.
In production since 2007, writer and director Aaron Sorkin finally brings the Chicago 7 to our screens despite budget concerns and the Covid-19 pandemic. Based on a true story, Sorkin brings his talents for political and courtroom drama to the fore, weaving a story that more than nods to contemporary political issues regarding US citizens’ freedom of speech and the US Government’s resistance to it.
Unlike Molly’s Game and Jobs, Sorkin dials back the self-congratulatory witty banter to instead flesh out his characters with their own distinct voices based on their personalities and political philosophies.
Leaders of distinctive counterculture groups, the main seven, accompanied by the co-founder of the Black Panther Party, Bobby Seale, were pursued under Richard Nixon’s government. What was to follow was an examination of the right to peaceful protest, police violence, political conspiracies and stances on the Vietnam War.
Cinematographer Phedon Papamichael (Ford v Ferrari) endues the movie with a classic, chocolatey hue and vignette, evoking classic courtroom dramas such as 12 Angry Men and Sorkin’s own A Few Good Men. Papamichael lays the landscape for Sorkin to meticulously unfold his story, shamelessly but effectively utilising well-worn tropes of the genre, which, bolstered by excellent performances from an ensemble cast, leads to an excellent payoff.
Verdict: An excellent historical drama which (unfortunately) serves as a parallel of contemporary times. 4.5 stars.
Now screening at cinemas and on Netflix.
- Luke McWilliams | themovieclub.net
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